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Friday, January 15, 2016

Killing Machine

1 - There was a local Catholic school
side by side with a parish, both called
St. Michael, we used to smoke behind
the fences separating the two,
stuffing dead ends in between oak cracks
dried in the summer, brittle in the cold,
rattling in contempt when the wind was hard
with its indiscriminate bite, and its howl
stole the syllables from your soul,

our shivering fingers partnered
with lips in vocal defiance,
although words should be no priest,
nor sentences their confessional box, they say,
for confessions have a way

of stripping you down in stark light,
and we must rise above ourselves
to achieve beauty in form and name,
or so they taught us in school
in uniform rows were the bell tolls
and you raced to the fence for a pull.

2 - We were taught the sonnets and mimicked
their spasms, I crouched down at the fence
writing lines of subconscious plagiaries
for the latest girl of my dreams,
sucking on a cigarette and channelling
the poets through fingers and teeth,
hoping Shakespeare had reincarnated
into the wood which now fenced
us in and we rubbed against for inspiration,

we jerked off with words and came
in discordant succession, we were birds
but the sky was too shallow for us,
without going low life felt false
removed far from the dirt we played,

and there we went to plant
the sounds that grew untamed;
to discover what fingers could do
and whether their nettles stung
in truth about what lovers know.
Was love a poison you swallow?

3 - Was it true you felt your liver rot?
Did your lungs choke? Were the arteries cut
from their breathing, that cigarette feeling
of hands clawing beneath the stomach line?
Were we just lessons in biology,
where hormones blind sight
out of mind? Youth is golden unbalance
that tips the mind over
into the mouth of the lion.

We were guts galore bleeding in glory
without a care for feeling,
but growing up was just like dying.
We were greatness stuck in between fences
that couldn't change a thing.

Of ourselves we were as certain as leaf-fall,
and steadfast as seasons that eventually come
to change you, and love becomes a tool
for cold-blooded murder, a souvenir head hunter
hunting meat for the killing machine, a wolf
in waiting to drag you from your path.

4 - And the time in between walking
the fences leaves a deep scarring mark
that will never leave you; you fade as
your insides grow teeth to bite down
on atoms in atrophy, but is it good enough to be
fallen prey to nature's destiny?
Where beauty in life is cruel,
and you learn the sonnets are filled with lies,
because fire simply burns you for fuel,

and the knees of speech turn
weak to disobey its rule; you allow
the fear of night to stop the search,
and your words are no longer raw
open hands asking for more,

for the fingers that once fearlessly wrote
of words Shakespeare incarnate
knew all adults were fakes,
now you are grown more original, more cynical,
but less alive than an old fence
that creaks and shakes.

Blunted Silver

Afternoons are the second child, light blunted silver
now Bowie has gone, and Rickman is done;
I wonder where is the world that once shone
on the last woman left on a derelict street
in Liverpool, terraced Victorians hollow inside
as Paris cries at the top of a hill,
her bodies are haunted houses where
the ghost of a brothel madam or two shake
their heads at the state of the libertine;

and I wonder at all the starry nights
the world has seen; the many-fold larger stores
of carbon in the topsoil of tropical soils
waiting to kill us all, and the immortals
who excuse evil simply because of their colours
changing, I stand in a silent minute thinking of the sun
the afternoon has torn, of the man
who risked his life to save someone,
and the young boy who murdered his brother

waiting for death on an Istanbul corner,
I wonder at all the shadows the world has hidden,
and the silence booed for its hyprocrasy,
for your life is only valuable
in relation to your similarity;
and the many are in a holy rush to blame
the innocent when God isn't even
in the game; and I wonder why there is no one
to listen when no one knows your name.

Lights on Dark Waters

in very early poems there were
lights in dark waters looking
down on us, their questioning eyes
making us feel as smoke in ether,
telling us to remember we were
not children together, but
to become children together:
running souls barefoot in the night,
sharing secrets in terror
and delight, just out of the corner
of sight where we dream while
stars burn out somewhere unseen;

as human as we seem, and as inhuman,
inevitable chemistry spiralling
within this figure, a fucking stand-in
for the poet himself, inspiring
the scent of spring and even
liberating in those early poems;
where powerful desire was the only
assassin we feared, its hands clasping
our earthern air, drawing us near
spellbound to hear what the future
would bring, a horizon so wide
the breeze would sing laughing to see
the blindness of loving things;

such an extreme futility as soaring
we close eyes and lock lips
to stop this thirst from taking
our liberty and the complete certainty
of fresh beginnings, and the doubt
which unlocks reason by strange biology,
as though we are a flood of energy
released and flowing somehow in beating
blood and skin shining together
through night and day divined
in this marking passage of time,

where we hold not a single answer
to all the stars of questions
altering and being altered by words
of the dead still speaking,
breathing in the lungs of the living,
blinking in the eye of night,
their lights on dark waters followed
by the wrong and the right,
sharing secrets out of sight, on fire
until we burn each other out.

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